Raza Ayoob Mrs

Raza Ayoob Mrs

Raza Ayoob
Mrs. Pelosi
AP Language
Aug 15, 2018
Annotations/Journal – Our Secret- Susan Griffin
• Setting and Information:
o The piece is set close to World War 2. Griffin discusses how a persons environment, childhood, and experiences influence and affect us in the future. The author discusses seemingly distinct episodes of the childhood of Heinrich Himmler, a man responsible for the genocide against the Jews in World War 2, people she has met who have suffered because of the war, and in between, comparisons to cell biology and the development of missiles. The author states, “I think of it now as a kind of mask, not an animated mask that expresses the essence of an inner truth, but a mask that falls like dead weight over the human face” (Griffen 349). Griffin is trying to say that everyone hides behind a mask to keep in side their most precious secrets and that is the main point the book is trying to convey. The piece makes us question our identity and purpose. She conveys this through a series of stories that who a person seems to be from the outside may not be who they are in their hearts.

• Heinrich Himmler:
I have realized that everyone in this world are professional actors from the moment they are born one of the first things we are taught is how to act. If a child is jumping on table in a restaurant pretending to Superman it is because they cannot act in a conventional manner, people will say teach that child how to “act”. At home parental acting classes are one of the first steps to us loosing who we really are, inside. Parents are our first acting coaches. This is the case of Heinrich Himmler who looses his own imagination, creativity, and tone by his strict father who instructs how to act in public, who to befriend, and goes as far as to dictate to him what he should write in his journal. Every child is their parents reflection. He is made to think, act, and react just the way his father would. It is said that a child is a reflection of their parents, in this piece the author explains this by showing how Himmler adopts his father’s ideology and world view. He was made to befriend only people that his father approves of and in Himmler’s diary he never refers to them by name but with their parent’s qualifications and titles, for example, Himmler states, “I played with the landlords son.” The author states that the religious tradition that shaped Himmler’s childhood is that, “the soul in not part of flesh but a prisoner of the body” but she argues that the growth of the soul is an important part for a child’s growth and compares it to the growth of seed toward light. Heinrich’s father never allowed to him to record rage or even the memory of it. This belief lead Himmler to adopt a secret life of fear and guilt and the voice of fathers that was once chastising him has become his own and the his fathers desires have become his own and soon his secrets fade from memory until the day finally arrives when he believes that the image he has made for himself in his diaries are actually true.
Later, when the war begins in 1914 Himmler finally gains a sense of purpose of in his life, he might fulfill his dream of being in uniform. The entries in his journal are no more lifeless and dull but instead filled with heated opinions of the war. His journal have contradictions, one day he thinks of Russian prisoners are like vermin and then the next day he feels sorry for the prisoners. He begins reading books on crime, police work, espionage, torture, and Jews. The author compares Himmler to her grandfather who was also an anti-semite. He considered the Aryan race as the superior race. Himmler was homophobic and a misogynist. She compares Himmler’s life to her life at her grandmother’s house, she says how everyone would smile in photos but in reality no one acknowledges what they truly feel. Through torture and abuse that was inflicted on Himmler as child if what made him afflict the torture and abuse onto others. Himmler could not watch people dying not because he did not enjoy it (he loved it). The reason was that he was put in charge of the Einsatzgruppen, moving groups of men who carry out the killing of civilians and partisans, and he takes liking to a prisoner there. He questions to help him avoid death but the young man does not deny being a Jew and is forced to follow the letter of the law and put him to death. It was his first time facing death he hears the screams, thuds, and cries, and sees the open wounds, faces blown apart , and stomachs opened up. He is stricken. He had imagined death to be a serene beauty and that life would fall at the mercy of death without a cry. The life Himmler affected and changed the lives of all.
Powerful passages
Page 327 and 328
• Leo:
He was nine years old when the war started and was no stranger to violence. Leo was beaten often by his cold father. His father’s rage forced his half brother to leave the house. Leo was deeply fond of his brother and considered him a hero due to the ability he had to bring fear to the adults, even his father. But what is most notable about his brother was his knack for interrogation and torture, he worked for Stalin’s KGB. Leo did not see him often, did not know his imperfections, or the real person hiding behind the mask. Leo was living in Ukraine when the Germans invaded and sent them to labour camps. He was separated from his father and his father let him go with no protest. Leo began to worship the SS members just as he did his brother, he respected people who were more powerful than him. He had acquired the Stockholm syndrome, falling in love with ones captors. He respected the beatings from the guards, he admired their strength, and “each blow gave him pride.” He considered his fellow inmates as cowardly, petty, and lacking the will of survival. He was soon liberated from the camps, rejoined with his almost starving family, and began working in the black market finding women for older men. His father never recognized his efforts of keeping the family alive. Later, Leo was sent to the US for high school and this is where his demise began. He joined a group of friends to beat homosexuals in a park and soon he was drafted for the Korean War as a Russian interrogator. There he learned a new way of thinking he states, ” you can never, let any man get the better of you.” This event in his life is so significant as this is where he had adopted the violence and abuse he had felt in the labour camps, he stuffed his finger in a prisoner’s eye making him bleed and howl only to uncover the mans deepest secrets. He had done onto others what the Germans had done onto him. Another defining instance in his life is when he befriend a young man from the army, hoping for him to look up to him just as he did his brother. Leo had committed a terrible crime, he took the life of an innocent black man. Through his guilt, he confessed and suffered a shorter sentence than he would have faced if the man was not of color. Leo states very powerfully, “There is a circle of humanity, he told me, and I can feel its warmth. But I am forever outside.” Saying this shows he was conscious of his inhumanity and he identified it in himself that he can never be part of the rich and varied tapestry of human life.

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Griffin relates her life and experiences to the lives of those presented in the book like Helene, a french woman who was sent to a concentration camp, Heinz, a gay man who killed in a concentration camp, Leo, and Himmler. She can resonate with Leo’s anger and rage when she wanted to beat her violent grandmother. Tracing her family heritage, she discovers that she may have been part Jew and questions that if her grandfather knew of his own history and if he did how different of a person he would have been. Throughout the piece there are italicized segments speaking about the growth of cell until it becomes a fetus and also other segments about the developments of missiles. These pieces represents man’s power for the beauty of creation and destruction of our world. This book shows the societal repercussion of war. It shows how people can become a stranger to themselves.

Most Powerful Quote
pg 322
pg 344

Page 333 3rd para
Do you think society is a reflection of one actions? Explain.
DO you think if sins and actions don’t happen in front you don’t exist.
What purpose do the cell and missile play in the novel?


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